Taxpayers affected by the major storm that snarled flights, flooded roads and brought coastal evacuations across the Northeast on Monday are getting an extra two days to file their returns.
The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that taxpayers directly affected by the storm have until midnight Thursday, April 19, to meet their tax filing obligations without incurring late filing and payment penalties.
The deadline extension is aimed at helping those directly affected by power outages or public transportation problems such as flight cancellations that made it difficult for people to file their returns on time.
"Because this unusually forceful storm hit within 24 hours of the filing deadline, we are giving affected taxpayers 48 additional hours," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said.
Impacted taxpayers will have until midnight April 19 to file their taxes. For others, the deadline this year was April 17 because April 15, normally tax day, fell on a Sunday and Monday was Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C.
Affected taxpayers can mark their paper tax returns with the words "April 16 Storm." Taxpayers who e-file their returns can use their software's "disaster" feature, if available.
Filers also can request an automatic extension.
The IRS also said it would grant an automatic extension to Virginia Tech students, families, university employees and first responders to the shootings that left 33 dead on Monday. They have until Oct. 15, 2007, to file their returns and make any payments. Those taxpayers must call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to claim the extra time.
Remember that the penalty for missing a deadline is typically a percentage of taxes owed. If you're owed a refund, you are unlikely to face a penalty for filing late. You have only three years to file to claim any refunds. Those owed refunds from the 2003 tax year lost them April 17.
Questions? IRS offers answersThe Internal Revenue Service issued a news release on questions that may arise about its 48-hour tax extension.
Q: Are estimated tax payments included in this relief?
A: No, the additional 48-hour filing and payment relief does not apply to estimated tax payments for individuals and businesses.
Q: Does the storm relief apply to the individual tax refund claims for tax year 2003 where the regular three-year statute of limitations is expiring?
A: No. We do not have the authority to extend the statute of limitations for the filing of the refund claims or any other time sensitive acts unless there is a Presidential disaster declaration.
Q: Will interest be waived on payments made after April 17, 2007?
A: No. We do not have the authority to waive interest on any underpayment of tax due April 17, 2007, that is paid late unless there is a Presidential disaster declaration.
Q: Who is covered by this extension?
A: This relief applies to taxpayers who have been affected by the storm on April 16 leading up to the April 17, 2007, filing deadline. Affected taxpayers located outside the Northeast are covered if they are prevented from filing in a timely manner because of the storm.
Q: Why aren't specific states listed? Is my state return covered by this extension?
A: We decided not to list specific states because of the widespread nature of the storm and transportation issues that could affect people located outside the Northeastern corridor. You will need to contact your respective state tax agency regarding any filing deadline issues pertaining to your state tax return.
Q: Does this 48-hour extension apply to taxpayers who file electronically?
A: Yes. The additional 48-hour filing relief applies to returns filed either electronically or on paper.
Q: How do people make an annotation on an e-filed return?
A: Some software packages include a "disaster" feature which allows the taxpayer to self-identify that they are impacted by the storm. But returns can still be e-filed under the 48-hour extension if this option is not used or is not available.
Q: What if I cannot file my return by the extended due date?
A: If you are unable to meet the additional 48-hour deadline, you should file Form 4868, "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return" by April 19, 2007.
Q: Do people need to attach a justification?
A: No, but they can mark the April 16 Storm designation on the top front page of their return. If you were eligible for the 48-hour extension of time to file and pay, and timely filed and paid by April 19, 2007, and you still receive a penalty notice, contact the number on the notice and explain that you were eligible for the 48-hour extension.
Q: Do people run a greater risk of IRS scrutiny if they file April 19?
A: No, returns from affected taxpayers will be treated the same as other returns.
Q: If people can file returns by April 17, should they?
A: Absolutely. The IRS announcement was designed to give people and tax professionals affected by the storm additional time if they need it. If they can file an accurate return by the 17th they should.
Q: Does the 48 hour storm relief apply to returns on six-month extensions of time to file that expire on April 17, 2007?
A: No, extensions of time to file under section 6081 are limited to six months. Thus, we do not have the authority to postpone the time for filing returns already on extension unless there is a presidential disaster declaration.